Defense of the day
A reader calls out some fellow commenters for overplaying the “Love of Jesus” card, and in the process raises the dilemma that the orthodox believer faces when confronted with unorthodoxy, particularly in online conversation:
Every time any of us click on the site in our browsers or take the time to post a comment, we’re endorsing. And, based on the volume of comments we see from you guys, your endorsements are loud and clear: “We really don’t care what the preference of the site owner is, and we ARE interested in being a part of his community. We endorse this site and we are glad to be associated with it.” And you are. Believe me, you are. “To pretend otherwise” is recklessly uninformed.
Most people don’t support voices they want silenced. Most people simply don’t visit sites they deem offensive. So, consider stopping your endorsements if you really are this concerned. Bloggers blog because people read and participate. Get it? Everything about your constant “let’s get this back to gay” postings are so hypocritical in the context of your ongoing endorsements.
This is what I was getting at a while back when I commented on the “irony of [readers’] using my forums to demand my silence.” Ironic, for me … but a source of endless frustration and ambivalence, I’m guessing, for anyone whose beliefs call him both to come out from among the sinful (i.e. this blog, in many readers’ minds) and to be a witness to a lost and dying world (i.e. in this blog’s comments threads). Witness all the people in comments who repeatedly vow never to return.
I can’t speak for those people. But for my part, I’ve always tried to err on the side of more rather than fewer voices in moderating comments - just as I tend toward the side of more rather than less candor in commenting on the sg music I listen to - on the belief that more wide open debates are better at shaking out the merits of competing world views and arguments. Or, as another blogger put it recently, “It’s always better to put everything on the table and fight over it, than posture about which subjects are worthy of debate or scrutiny.”
It’s not always easy to trust the ultimate truth of this position. I know I certainly haven’t in every case. As the Avery icon at the top of page reminds us, I begin this enterprise anonymously. Similarly, while I’ve always made your comments a central part of the site, avfl didn’t include embedded discussion threads for a couple years. And until recently, I pretty much let readers assume whatever they wanted to about me personally.
So, starting with me, I’m not surprised that it’s taken longer for the “put everything on the table” thesis to be born out around here than it might have at sites with a less orthodox audience. And of course some readers still have a ways to go: note, for instance, how many recent commenters seem to believe that their erroneous assumptions about what kind of person would write and edit an sg blog is primarily my problem, or that what what they failed to perceive (or make their business to find out, if they care so much) represents some sort of secret. But in any case, these things take time.
To my mind, this vast difference between me and so many - though not all - of you only reinforces the value of pluralistic debate. Indeed, I think the pluralistic ethic in which this site roots conversation is probably one of its central attractions, even or especially for those people who are professing opponents of pluralism, which is what I think the reader was getting at the comment above. Whether you know it or not, you’re casting vote for pluralism every time you click the comment button.
So, to adapt the line I recall from my days as an Episcopalian (and with apologies to that dear soul, Howard Anderson): “all are welcome at these forums, of whatever creed, faith, persuasion or belief … or on this day, no belief at all.”
I can’t honestly say I always understand how some of my more orthodox readers manage the dissonance that clearly builds up in taking advantage of this site’s openness in order to attack it (or filling comments threads with Bible-quoting sermonettes and then complaining about the site’s bias against scripture), but I take it as a sign of vitality that The Line is home to such a wide range of outlooks and opinions that, by turns, intersect, harmonize, converge, and collide.Email this Post